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Somewhere over the rainbow

Parking garden

Heritage Museums & Gardens Board of Trustees members (from left) Charles Ritch, Tracy Isham, Thomas Rockwell, Cheryl Lilly, Louis Ricciardi and John Fulone, along with Heritage President & CEO Ellen Spear (in red) and State Senator Vinny deMacedo and Representative Randy Hunt (right), at the dedication ceremony for the Heritage parking garden. Photo courtesy of Heritage Museums & Gardens

Paving the lot around the rain gardens and multitude of landscape beds that extend from the curbs and center islands presented a unique challenge. “It’s not your typical parking lot with symmetrical, square, 90-degree edges,” says Craig Trombly of Robert B. Our Company, general contractor on the project. “I can’t say enough about Horsley Witten’s plans. The way they tied in the existing contours with the proposed contours, there were no grading mistakes in the plans, and that’s what helped us succeed to build the project.”

“It was great to have a contractor who was capable,” notes Joseph Longo, principal for Horsley Witten Group. “It came together quite well,” he says, adding, “Once you get out of your car, you’re in a garden.”

With over 8,000 perennials, 350 new flowering shrubs, and 50 new specimen trees, the parking garden is a horticultural feat. “You could’ve exported an entire nursery, and we still wouldn’t have had enough plants,” says Laverriere. In executing the planting plan, Laverriere collaborated with D.C.-based landscape architecture firm Oehme, van Sweden & Associates and Les Lutz, director of horticulture at Heritage. Robust evergreens, including blue hollies and umbrella pines, provide a visual screen from Shawme Road. An American elm, which will grow up to 90 feet tall, sits in the center of the ellipse surrounded by three white fringe trees, which will mature to about 20 feet. A fringe tree is also a feature inside of Heritage, with one prominently in front of the administration building.

Incorporating plantings and the aesthetic found within Heritage is a theme throughout the parking garden. “We ascribe to a new American landscape aesthetic, which is kind of the antithesis of the formal English garden, and our parking garden certainly echoes that,” says Spear. “There’s a lot of use, for instance, of hydrangeas, since we have the North American Hydrangea Test Garden here at Heritage.” The “naturalistic” and “sophisticated” palette seen throughout Heritage is also on display in the parking garden, with pops of color, for instance, in the red coneflowers of the rain garden located in front of the main entrance.

As the planting installation neared completion, Laverriere recalls a bittersweet moment walking the grounds of the parking garden with Laura Swain, senior gardener at Heritage. “We talked about all the different cultivars and which plants live where. Laura was all excited because she was basically just getting started with her caregiving, and I was at the in-between. It was like giving my baby to somebody,” Laverriere recalls with a laugh. He says he still drives over to the parking garden from time to time to check on the landscaping.

As Dorothy famously says in “The Wizard of Oz,” “There’s no place like home,” and there’s certainly no place like the Heritage parking garden on Cape Cod. “We are so proud of our parking garden,” Spear says, “because it proclaims that we are accessible and welcoming to everyone. And we think visitors will really feel that when they drive through the gates.”

The following businesses contributed to the design and construction of the Heritage Museums & Gardens parking garden:

Civil engineering: Horsley Witten Group

Landscape architecture: Oehme, van Sweden & Associates & Horsley Witten Group

Architect: GWWO Architects

General contractor: Robert B. Our Company

Landscape contractor: Michael P. Neath Landscape Construction

Initial concept design: Sasaki & Associates

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